Pittsfield and Jacksonville Follow Up

Cow Pastures, 16″ Softball, and How to Change a Tire on a Buick

“We’re fine.  The only time we lose our concentration is when the umpire says, ‘Play Ball’!”-  Lou Piniella
The typical Saints season runs from May through September but the behind the scenes planning starts in cold winter months leading up to the season.  Early in the year we had only one Illinois state facility (Danville) invite us in. It was an incredible blessing when our Regional Director announced that Pittsfield and Jacksonville were going to invite us to visit on August 22nd.

Departing at 5:30 am, we made the trek south to Pittsfield, IL.  The Pittsfield Work Camp had never had an outside group like ours visit.  We had a great time with the men and won our first game 30-24.  Our team hit several home runs into the cow pasture on the other side of the fence.  One close call we had was when our pitcher, Ray”Papa” Koonce, took a line drive off of his knee.  Papa survived and we held on to win the game!

After the game, Jeremy Haab shared his testimony of how God has worked in his life and Robert Cook preached the Gospel to the men.  The entire crowd stayed to hear us preach and were very receptive.  We had 15 men indicate that they decided to trust Christ.  We had another 25 men in the crowd indicate that they were already believers.  One of the umpires stopped us and talked to the team for a while.  His name was Mark and rededicated his life to Christ while in prison.  Several of our guys had a chance to pray over him as he is close to going home this fall.

Our next stop was Jacksonville Correctional Center.  Instead playing a normal softball game, we played 16″ Chicago Style Softball with NO GLOVES.  We played two games and fell way behind each game.  Eventually we figured out how to hit, and even catch a little and came back and won both games!  In between games, Brent Gerber shared his testimony and Darrell Pine shared the Gospel.  I had another man tell me about how he related to Brent’s testimony and had been growing in Christ since coming to prison.  I talked to another man who trusted Christ while at Jacksonville.  He is getting out in February and he told us how excited he was that we came to visit.  Overall we saw 22 men make decisions to follow Jesus while another 45 indicated that they were already saved.

One last final note-  After a long day we are usually ready to go out and get something to eat.  After having usual post visit talk in the parking lot, some of guys noticed a lady who had a flat tire.  Without any prompting our softball/ministry team/pit crew had the car jack out and were changing the lady’s tire in the prison parking lot.  The group that I serve with is incredible.  I am blessed to call them teammates and go to battle with them!

Thank you for praying and supporting this ministry!

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